Saturday, July 31, 2010

Brief Critical Comments on the Lack of Bible Reading of Far too Many Catholics

By Dave Armstrong (7-31-10)

Many Catholics, though they "get Scripture" by "osmosis" through the Mass readings, don't even sit and read Scripture. The New Testament is shorter than virtually any novel. I just don't see why any Christian would not read it at least once. The Church highly encourages this, and doesn't say that Catholics should learn Scripture only from attending Mass.

It's all the more absurd that this is the case, seeing that the same Catholics will get a four-year college degree and read and learn all kinds of stuff (or read hundreds of books and magazines: mostly fiction, it seems), yet neglect to read the Bible: the inspired revelation of God. That makes no sense. It has to do with priorities: what is important and what is most helpful in the spiritual life. If we want to solidly know Catholic theology, we'll have to read and study on our own. There is no way out of that, and no good excuse that I can see.

And I'm not saying (to make myself clear) that we all have to memorize Scripture and know exactly where everything is. No! I don't do that. I don't see the necessity (and I hate memorizing things, myself). We can look things up if we need to, with concordances and word searches. It's easier than ever now to do that. I'm just talking about sitting and reading the New Testament. Reading the Old Testament would be good, too, but at least the New Testament.

There are no good or sufficient reasons not to do it. My remarks were mostly directed towards Catholic folks who are readers, but read everything but the Bible, for some odd reason.

And if Protestants are programmed to read the Bible a lot, I say: "what better book for one to be programmed to read"!!!

I should add, too, that I never seriously read the Bible at all till I was 18 years old, so I was little different from many cradle Catholics in that regard, and can relate. But I wasn't hearing about it through the Mass.

Learning and loving the Bible was a completely acquired taste and a deliberate decision. It was made interesting to me by the choices I made: books, churches, friends, radio shows, research activities, talks with my fervently evangelical brother Gerry, etc. So I had to learn to do the reading, too. It wasn't by osmosis. I was in the evangelical world for 13 years, but I was a convert to that, too, and didn't grow up in it. Therefore, I think anyone can learn to love something if they put a little effort into it. Bible commentaries and books about reading the Bible can help a lot to spark and maintain that interest.


Stan Williams said...

Catholics don't read their Bible because the Church, indirectly, discourages it. (1) Most parishes do not encourage laypeople to lead Bible studies, creating an intellectual "wall" that says "only the priest or someone with a Masters in such can do it.

(2) In the Mass a BIBLE is NOT used to read from. Thus congregants never see the pastor reading from a Bible or teaching from one in his hands.

(3) When Scripture is read in the Mass the lector never says, "Open your Bibles please ...." prior to reading the day's readings. Such a phrase is used in almost every Evangelical Bible toting church.

(4) Catholic Bible publishers, mostly, do not know how to publish a Bible that is easy to carry and read. Evangelical publishers know how to do it.

(5) Catholic publishers of Bible help materials like concordances and Bible study guides are typically brain dead at publishing materials that make Bible study interesting. they need to study what Evangelical publishers do.

(6) The Catholic Church needs to embrace "popular" Sunday School classes that use the Bible as the basis of their various classes on child rearing, witnessing, young couples groups, senior groups, etc. The last Evangelical church we attended had 18 adult Sunday morning classes that platooned with the church services

Dave Armstrong said...

Great points all.